WILLOW HILL - Walking into the Fannett-Metal basketball gym, it looked like half of Forbes Road's players didn't get off the bus.
But that's not unusual for the Cardinals.
Despite having just six players on the roster, Forbes jumped to a lead that Fannett-Metal could not overcome and the Cardinals reached a record above .500 for the first time since 2010 with a 76-58 Sideling Hill/Inter-County Conference victory over the Tigers.
Forbes Road came out of the gate gaining a 10-point lead in the first quarter, which, according to Cardinals coach Jeff Gelvin, was the deciding factor in the game.
"The first quarter hasn't been a good quarter for us," Gelvin said. "We wanted to get a get a fast start because their fans were really getting into the game and we wanted to try to take their fans out of the game. It worked out with the start we got."
McKenzie Gelvin caused trouble for the Tigers (5-4, 2-4 SHL, 1-4 ICC), scoring a career-high 34 points for Forbes Road (5-4, 2-4 SHL, 1-4 ICC), while Fannett-Metal threw everything they had at her.
"We didn't even limit her," F-M coach Todd Best said. "A lot of the time when you go up against those good to great players, you want to try to limit them, but we couldn't."
The game was virtually over, with Forbes leading by 19 with less than three minutes to play, but Gelvin didn't care. She was passed the ball at mid-court, and weaved her way through nearly every Fannett-Metal defender and around the painted Tiger at half court, drove to the net, and made the basket ... and drew a foul.
"This was definitely my favorite game ever," McKenzie Gelvin said. "It was intense the whole time and everybody was involved and wanting to win. It was great."
"She's very quick and can handle the ball with both hands," Best said. "And her supporting cast did a good job, too."
Gelvin was joined by two other players in double figures - Mina Wilt, who scored 17, and Courtney Schoen, who had 12 and grabbed 15 rebounds for a double-double.
Fannett-Metal's Ally Hoffman ended the night with a double-double, scoring 27 points - a career-high for the sophomore - and grabbing 14 rebounds.
"We let Hoffmann get inside way too much, but other than that our defense was very good," Jeff Gelvin said.
At halftime Forbes Road entered the locker room with two players holding three fouls, which could have been tragic for the Cardinals had someone fouled out. But they kept it under control, despite a large number of calls in the second half.
Two technical fouls were given in the fourth quarter as the intensity and physicality of the game increased with Forbes Road's lead.
"They see us as a rival, but we don't look to Fannett-Metal as a rival," Wilt said. "I know the games are always close down here. But if you beat them on the boards, who is smiling at the end?"
Fannett-Metal ended the night with 36 rebounds and 11 steals, mostly in the second quarter.
"It was too much too late, unfortunately," Best said. "We have to find a way to play 32 minutes with five girls. We're just in a rock slide right now, so we will try to show Forbes something better the second time around."
Forbes Road 76, Fannett-Metal 58
Forbes Road (76)
Mina Wilt 6 2-7 14, Malea Truax 2 2-2 8, McKenzie Gelvin 10 11-17 34, Courtney Schoen 5 2-8 12, Maddie Miller 1 0-0 2, Mara Broadwater 3 0-0 6. Totals — 27 17-34 76.
Becky Runk 4 1-6 9, MaKayla O'Donel 4 1-5 9, Maddie Johns 1 0-0 2, Ally Hoffmann 11 5-9 27, Taylor Coffman 5 0-0 6, Morgan Richy 0 0-0 0, Emily Metcalfe 2 0-0 4, Ashlynn Murray 0 1-2 1, Katie Johns 0 0-0 0, Jamie Adams 0 0-0 0. Totals — 25 8-22 58.
Forbes Road _ 20 _ 20 _ 15 _ 21 _ — _ 76
Fannett-Metal _ 10 _ 13 _ 14 _ 21 _ — _ 58
3-point goals — FR 5 (Gelvin 3, Truax 2).